Eastern Collared Lizard

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The Eastern Collared Lizard may be one of the Holy Grail species for photographers who love to photograph reptiles.  It is big, as lizards go, extending to about 14 inches with its tail included.  The males of this species are extremely colorful.  And, at the same time it is elusive.  It lives on rocky hillsides that aren’t always easily accessible by foot.

About a week ago I was very fortunate to get a few images of one of these beauties. I hiked up a slope where Eastern Collared Lizards are known residents.  I deliberately waited until mid-afternoon in order to maximize the possibility that I’d find one of these lizards reposing in the sun.  That choice came with a cost.  It was well above 90 degrees without any real shade as I lugged my camera with macro telephoto  lens, flash attachment, and monopod, up a fairly steep slope.

My efforts paid off when I found this lizard loafing on a rock outcropping.

The lizard’s extremely long tail is evident in this image.  It is among the most beautiful of all reptiles, with its turquoise blue body and the golden accents on its head and feet.

Here’s a closer look.

Notice the black and white striped collar on this individual.  That’s what gives the species its name.

I’d always wondered how these lizards could get away sporting such bright colors in a world where predators abound.  However, now, I think I know the answer.  Look at the lichens on the rock.  They’re almost the exact color of the lizard.  A stationary Eastern Collared Lizard blends in well with a rock that’s covered in lichens.

Images made with a Canon 5DS-R, 180 mm f3.5L Macro Lens, assisted by Canon 600EX-RT speedlite and stabilized by monopod, M setting, ISO 160, f10 @ 1/160.

3 responses to “Eastern Collared Lizard”

  1. Liesl Kii says :

    A bejeweled beauty!

  2. Paule Hjertaas says :

    I’ll have to revisit the photos but I don’t think ourswas that bright…

    • stevenkessel says :

      Females are less brightly colored than the males. There’s also another species of collared lizard inhabiting the desert west of Tucson called the Sonoran Collared Lizard. i’ve never seen it but judging from the pictures, although it closely resembles the Eastern Collared Lizard in shape and size, it is less brightly colored.

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